Chapter Two: Tag

WARNING! Most of the information presented in this book is simply not true and, in fact, is a complete pack of lies. It is therefore highly recommended that you do not use any of its contents as part of a book report, a school project or as an answer to a question in a surprise test. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!

The Game of Tag



  • A group of players of no fewer than two people* and no more than three million people decide among them who will be “it”**.
  • The person who is “it” then chases the other players in order to get close enough to “tag” them.
  • Once another person has been “tagged”, then that “person” is now “it”. The games continues until all players are too tired or, in the case of particularly long games, until the second last person has died of old age.

*Anyone attempting to play this game by themselves will quickly become aware of its limitations.

**In certain countries, the term “it” has been replaced with the nickname “Lizard Breath”.


(illust. 2a  How Tag Works  In this picture, the central figure is “it” or “Lizard Breath”. The surrounding figures are attempting to avoid being “it” or “Lizard Breath” by getting as far away as possible.)


1. NO TAG-BACKS  This rule prevents someone who was recently tagged from then tagging back the person by whom they were tagged. The rule was created after the infamous Wet Cement Incident in Calgary, Alberta (see illustration 2b), in which two players were locked in perpetual tag-back mode while standing on a recently created sidewalk. Sadly, they remained in place, tagging each other for over forty years.

Wet Cement tag-back
“No, you’re it!”

(illust. 2b  The Wet Cement Tag-back Incident  This sculpture in downtown Calgary memorializes the tragic event in the exact spot where it occurred.  Tag enthusiasts often leave flowers at its base.)

2. SAFE ZONES  With this rule, an area is agreed upon that would make a player safe from being tagged if that player is within its boundaries. The safe zone can be as small as standing in a sandbox at a playground or as large as standing in the country of Lichtenstein (see illust. 2c).


(illust. 2c  Map of European Union Tag Championships, 2007  Depicted in beige is the game area where a player can be tagged “it” or “Respiro Lucertola” as it is referred to in Italy. The tiny dot of Lichtenstein is the only “safe zone” where a player can rest.)

A safe zone can also be an object. By simply making contact with the object using either one’s hand, foot, elbow or nose, a player is deemed safe from being tagged. Common safe objects are lampposts, swing sets and water fountains. Cars, and especially moving cars, are not recommended.


1. Alligator Tag

In this version, the game of tag takes place on a Jungle Gym or some other large playground apparatus, or in a swamp. Usually, it’s in a swamp because alligators prefer them to school playgrounds with one notable exception (see illust. 2d ). The player deemed the alligator is “it” and must try to tag the other players without climbing on the equipment, and by using only their teeth. Hospitals should be notified ahead of time if this tag variation is played.

(illust. 2d  For reasons still unclear, the designers of the playground at General D.I.S. Array Public School in Florida chose to erect the jungle gym in an actual swamp. The local mayor called this decision “madness” whereas the head of the local alligator association called it “delicious”.

2. Cops and Robbers

This version requires players to divide into two teams. The “cops” are considered “it” and it is their responsibility to tag all the “robbers” and then put them in “jail”. The game is over once all the “robbers” have been caught, unless one of them manages to stage a jailbreak which frees her teammates. Cops and Robbers is rarely played these days for several reasons:

  • Tagging requires using handcuffs which can bruise the wrists.
  • Real police officers often mistake the game for an actual robbery and start making arrests.
  • Building a jail is both expensive and time-consuming (see illust. 2e). By the time the jail is constructed, recess is over and players must go back to class.

(Illust. 2e The grade six students of Sir Honkalot Elementary in Winnipeg, Manitoba took it upon themselves to build a replica of a medieval prison for their game of Cops and Robbers. Showing a lack of foresight, they used the bricks from their own school to construct it and classes were then cancelled for seven months until repairs were completed.)

In the next chapter, we will look at both the history of tag and its future.

Quiz Questions

  • How many lies or misinformation were you able to spot in this chapter?
  • What were some of the ways you figured out that they were not true?
  • Were there any bits that were true or that maybe sounded believable?

Tips for Truth-seekers

Think like a fact-checker, which in a way means to think sideways, or laterally.

In the last chapter, we imagined coming across an article that said that too much running is bad for your elbows, but there was a product you could buy to fix it. How might you see if there was support to this claim?

  • Well, you could search for information about sports injuries to see if this issue is ever mentioned.
  • You could search websites for stores that sell sport equipment or footwear to see if there are similar products.
  • You could look for general information about medical issues to do with elbows.

Ultimately, what you’re seeking is some corroboration (independent evidence that backs up what is stated).

Chapter Three: The History of Tag and It’s Future

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